It's that merry time of the year when children everywhere are on their best behavior in hopes of landing themselves on Santa's nice list. I have never personally met anyone who didn't make the nice list, however I DO know a certain social network that should miss out this year. For some strange reason (going public) Facebook has decided to act up this year and deserves to find itself comfortably on the naughty list. Why on Earth would I doom Facebook to receive a lump of coal this year? Here are 4 reasons why!
1) Auto-play Video Ads
A recent report said that Facebook is planning on rolling out 15 second video advertisements that automatically play. Some might disagree, but I think this is a very bad idea. How annoying is it when you are on YouTube and a video ad automatically plays or on a news site and a distracting video mysteriously starts playing? By even proposing this type of advertising solution, I feel like Facebook is totally disregarding their users. Un-wanted auto play ads might prompt users to hit mute so that they don't have to hear them, nullifying the whole strategy. Also, what about the users who access Facebook at work? Will they log into Facebook less due to fear of corny ads automatically playing when the page loads? Facebook will probably figure out a more user friendly way to go about this (I hope). It seems like they need to learn the hard way that what makes the investors happy doesn't always make the users happy.
2) Naughty Instagram Deal
As you may have heard, Instagram announced that its new terms of service reserve the right to leverage user photos into ads. You may also have heard that Instagram chose to backtrack on that idea due to the outrage that many social media users expressed. While this concept is much like Facebook's Sponsored Stories, I feel that using user generated content as ads without their content or even compensating them for it is not a very "social Zen" thing to do. I fault Facebook for this because I would assume since Facebook owns Instagram, this was a brainchild of those who have to please the investors. If you think about it, the idea itself was genius. It would have been a continuous stream of sincere photo content, most of which would have been about a brand. A brand would be crazy to not want to buy that content and leverage it to make money. This would have been the perfect scheme had nobody noticed the fine print.
3) Forcing Users to be Findable in Facebook Search
Facebook is currently in the process of rolling out its new privacy controls, however even with these new controls, there is one thing that is taken out of the user's control. If you are the type of person that doesn't want people to be able to find you through a Facebook search, you are out of luck. Facebook has now taken away the option for users to hide from search. While there are still some other quality privacy controls, this one seems pretty important to keep. In my opinion, Facebook is making the less social users play nice with others and forces them into a situation where they will have to perform an engagement action. What if you have a crazy ex that won't leave you alone or a group of people that you don't want finding you on Facebook? Blocking them may be your only option!
4) Charging Users to Communicate
This is the most recent thing Facebook has done which should land them on the naughty list. It might not seem like a big deal, but it does speak to the fact that Facebook is trying to ring out revenue in any way possible. As of right now, when you send a message to another person that you are not friends with on Facebook, that message lands in the "Others" subsection of the Facebook Messages Inbox. Facebook is currently testing an option to charge a one-time fee ($1) for users to send a message to another non-friend user's main Inbox. From the social perspective, this might allow users to meet new people within Facebook; however from the marketing perspective I think it is rather silly. It seems to be a petty attempt at revenue and is sure to open a floodgate of potential spammers who think this would be a way to directly connect with potential customers for $1.
Separately, these four items are forgivable, but for me they make Facebook a top candidate for the naughty list. As soon as I am finished typing this, I am going to write a very sternly written email to Santa!
Do you agree? Has Facebook seemed to slowly go from nice to naughty?